At last, a concrete example of “woke”! Poetry.

You may have noticed that Tommy Tuberville was holding up military appointments. We now learn what kind of thing he thinks justifies his dilatoriness.

Tuberville attempted to defend his monthslong blockade by fighting the culture war on “wokeness.”

“Right now we are so woke in the military, we are losing recruits right and left,” he said. “Secretary [Carlos] Del Toro of the Navy he needs to get to building ships; he needs to get to recruiting; and he needs to get wokeness out of our Navy. We’ve got people doing poems on aircraft carriers over the loudspeaker. It is absolutely insane the direction that we’re headed in our military.”

OH MY GOD. Sailors might hear poetry. Real men don’t read or listen to poetry, or pay any attention to song lyrics. It is not surprising at all that a moron like Tuberville lacks all music or prosody in his brain. Poor man.


  1. anthrosciguy says

    Sailors and poetry? I think they’ve heard some. “There once was a lass from Nantucket…”

  2. robro says

    Would Tommy Tupperware feel the same if the poetry was from the Bible? Some stoic admonitions from Ecclesiastes? Some saucy verses from Song of Solomons? I bet he would have a different take on that poetry being read on an aircraft carrier?

  3. nomdeplume says

    Should they have been broadcasting “Ride of the Valkyries” over the loud speaker?

    Another example of Trump brain rot.

  4. says

    Does little Tommy Tuberville object to our stalwart men of the Navy reciting poems while on aircraft carriers, writing poems while on aircraft carriers, or writing poems on the subject of aircraft carriers? All of the above? What a nitwit, and why do I have “In The Navy” by the Village People stuck in my head?

  5. says

    Among my father’s library I found two books of poetry. Both were written in WW2 for the troops fighting against Japan. They were light-hearted looks at the war accompanied by cartoon illustrations. More than a few of the poems mentioned thoughts of home. The woke man who owned those books served in the Royal Australian Air Force in world war 2. His first squadron was thrown into the desperate defense of Darwin in the early days of the war against Japan. His squadron flew lumbering twin-engine bombers on raids against Japanese bases defended by Zero fighters which outgunned and outflew them. Nearly 80% of the squadron was killed and they were reduced to two serviceable planes before they were moved south to assemble and deliver more bombers to other squadrons in Northern Australia. I inherited my love of reading and literature from my father. For their heroism and service in that early desperate battle the woke heroes of his squadron were the first foreign military unit to be awarded the US Presidential Unit Citation. Tommy Tumourville should wake up and stop denigrating the servicemen and women who put their lives on the line to defend his worthless hide.

  6. drsteve says

    If this all leads to the filthiest limericks our nation’s sailors can devise getting read in sad, solemn tones on the Senate floor it will all be worth it.

  7. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ironically, Tommy Potatao-head claims that attempts to make recruits feel valued and appreciated will somehow hurt recruiting. I guess he is worried about offending the bigoted thugs he would like the military to be populated with.

  8. gijoel says

    he needs to get to building ships; he needs to get to recruiting;

    He would if you’d have pulled your finger out, jackass. Obviously Tommy is stonewalling in order to get something else, anyone know what it is, or is he this stupid?*

    *If you have to ask you already know.

  9. fredbrehm says

    I wonder what he thinks of composing song lyrics on a navy vessel. Would he have complained about Francis Scott Key?

  10. wzrd1 says

    fredbrehm @ 11, I suspect he’d only want poetry written in Russian, like all of his fellow far right brethren.

  11. wereatheist says

    How cute. An American Taliban. OK, the real Taliban were more preoccupied with music and dancing (but did destroy poetry books as well).
    I guess his version of Jesus loves what he does.

  12. Akira MacKenzie says

    Patton was notorious for publishing maudlin poetry. Is this backwoods jock questioning the manliness of one of the right’s favorite military psychopaths?

  13. Tethys says

    I really need the SE states to stop electing utter idiots to public office. I am not at all shocked that this fool thinks poetry is “woke”, and probably thinks the military is 100% manly male menz with women recruits allowed to be clerical staff.

    Maybe someone should tell him that the category of poetry includes music and The Pledge of Allegiance?

    Alternatively, maybe he would be satisfied that our military isn’t too woke by reading some 1000 year old Norse poetry over the loudspeaker? Old Norse is a rather harsh and guttural language, and conveniently has many poems about blood and battle in its corpus.
    There is a rather good one which is about Valkyries deciding fate and weaving a victory banner using human skulls for weights and guts for warp.

    “Cast is the warp for the fortunes of war.
    Rows wrought on the beam in a rain of blood. “. DAR

  14. ardipithecus says

    John McCrae, 1915

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.
    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
    In Flanders fields.
    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

    Yeah, soldiers and poetry . . .

    Why is Tuberville still in that position? Surely there is someone who could remove him short of shooting the bastard!

  15. robro says

    wzrd @ #13 — “I suspect he’d only want poetry written in Russian…” I think Potatoville is one of the members of congress pushing to get the US to stop supporting Ukraine…for you-know-who’s benefit. So, the question has come up about whether he has any off-the-record associations with Russian operatives. He wouldn’t be the only one in US politics with suspicious connections to Russians. Of course, screwing up the US military would fit in with that hidden agenda as well.

  16. says

    Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
    Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
    Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
    And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
    Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
    But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
    Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
    Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

    Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
    Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
    But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
    And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
    Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
    As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

    In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
    He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

    If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
    Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
    And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
    His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
    Pro patria mori.

    Wilfred Owen

  17. raven says

    “Right now we are so woke in the military, we are losing recruits right and left,” he said.

    This is an assertion without proof or data and may be dismissed without proof or data.

    No, the Navy isn’t “woke”.
    No, we (who is we anyway, stupid rednecks from Alabama?) aren’t losing recruits right and left.

    Even my right wingnut gibberish to English Google translator can’t make sense out of what this guy really means.

    I don’t know much about Tuberville but it is possible he has the same problem as Sarah Palin and MT Greene. That is, he is just very stupid.

  18. bcw bcw says

    @11 The star spangled banner was originally only a poem. It was later to be put to the melody of an English drinking song, “To Anacreon in Heaven.” lyrics:
    “To ANACREON in Heav’n, where he sat in full Glee,
    A few Sons of Harmony sent a Petition,
    That He their Inspirer and Patron wou’d be;
    When this Answer arriv’d from the JOLLY OLD GRECIAN
    “Voice, Fiddle, and Flute,
    “No longer be mute,
    “I’ll lend you my Name and inspire you to boot,
    “And, besides, I’ll instruct you like me, to intwine
    “The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS’s Vine.


    “The white cracker who wrote the National Anthem knew what he was doing. He set the word “free” to a note so high nobody could reach it. That was deliberate.”
    ― Tony Kushner, Perestroika

  19. microraptor says

    ardipithecus @17: Well, he lives in Florida despite having run for office in Alabama, which is not supposed to be allowed. He used a home owned by his son, who has the same first name as him, as his address when he registered as an Alabama voter two weeks before he entered the race for his seat in Congress. That ought to be enough to get him kicked out of office, but of course in the US’s completely dysfunctional political climate it’s considered a good thing.

  20. raven says

    Tommy Tuberville Begrudgingly Admits White Nationalists …

    Yahoo News › tommy-tuberville-either-extr…

    Jul 11, 2023 — The Alabama senator’s recent comments indicate he’s either extremely dumb, extremely racist, or both.

    Well, OK, I now know more about Tuberville than I wish I did.

    He is both stupid and a racist.

    Speaking on an Alabama radio show in May, Tuberville objected to efforts to keep white nationalists out of the military.

    “The Democrats are attacking our military, saying we need to get out the white extremists, the white nationalists, people that don’t believe in our agenda,” Tuberville lamented.

    He means that the navy doesn’t have enough white racists or Nazis.

    Tuberville doesn’t realize that is a feature, not a bug these days.

  21. StevoR says

    I wonder if knows or cares that the warship fromthe days of sail the USS Constitution was saved by a poem :

    O, better that her shattered hulk
    Should sink beneath the wave;
    Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
    And there should be her grave;
    Nail to the mast her holy flag,
    Set every thread-bare sail,
    And give her to the god of storms,—
    The lightning and the gale!
    – Oliver Wendell Holmes

    Source and full poem here :

    Constitution was built in an era when a ship’s expected service life was 10 to 15 years.[142] Secretary of the Navy John Branch made a routine order for surveys of ships in the reserve fleet, and commandant of the Charlestown Navy Yard Charles Morris estimated a repair cost of over $157,000 for Constitution.[143] On 14 September 1830, an article appeared in the Boston Advertiser which erroneously claimed that the Navy intended to scrap Constitution.[144][Note 4] Two days later, Oliver Wendell Holmes’ poem “Old Ironsides” was published in the same paper and later all over the country, igniting public indignation and inciting efforts to save “Old Ironsides” from the scrap yard. Secretary Branch approved the costs, and Constitution began a leisurely repair period while awaiting completion of the dry dock then under construction at the yard.

    Oh and people back in those olden (“manly manly man MAN!!!1thy!”) days* cared about statutes – technically figureheads and took action against them too – something I didn’t realise till reading this :

    Meanwhile, Elliot directed the installation of a new figurehead of President Jackson under the bowsprit, which became a subject of much controversy due to Jackson’s political unpopularity in Boston at the time.[149] Elliot was a Jacksonian Democrat,[150] and he received death threats. Rumors circulated about the citizens of Boston storming the navy yard to remove the figurehead themselves.[146][151]

    A merchant captain named Samuel Dewey accepted a small wager as to whether he could complete the task of removal.[152] Elliot had posted guards on Constitution to ensure the safety of the figurehead, but Dewey crossed the Charles River in a small boat, using the noise of thunderstorms to mask his movements, and managed to saw off most of Jackson’s head.[152] The severed head made the rounds between taverns and meeting houses in Boston until Dewey personally returned it to Secretary of the Navy Mahlon Dickerson; it remained on Dickerson’s library shelf for many years.[153][154]

    Source :

    I wonder if he knows the ancient Samurai were famously also poets and considers them “woke” and thus somehow “weak” or something?

    By the 12th century, upper-class samurai were highly literate because of the general introduction of Confucianism from China during the 7th to 9th centuries and in response to their perceived need to deal with the imperial court, who had a monopoly on culture and literacy for most of the Heian period. As a result, they aspired to the more cultured abilities of the nobility.[75]

    Examples such as Taira Tadanori (a samurai who appears in the Heike Monogatari) demonstrate that warriors idealized the arts and aspired to become skilled in them. Tadanori was famous for his skill with the pen and the sword or the “bun and the bu”, the harmony of fighting and learning.

    Samurai were expected to be cultured and literate and admired the ancient saying “bunbu-ryōdō” (文武両道, literary arts, military arts, both ways) or “The pen and the sword in accord”. By the time of the Edo period, Japan had a higher literacy comparable to that in central Europe.[76]

    The number of men who actually achieved the ideal and lived their lives by it was high. An early term for warrior, “uruwashii”, was written with a kanji that combined the characters for literary study (“bun” 文) and military arts (“bu” 武), and is mentioned in the Heike Monogatari (late 12th century). The Heike Monogatari makes reference to the educated poet-swordsman ideal in its mention of Taira no Tadanori’s death:[77]

    Friends and foes alike wet their sleeves with tears and said,
    What a pity! Tadanori was a great general,
    pre-eminent in the arts of both sword and poetry.

    Source :

    A tradition that continued with the Kamikaze wearing special belts sewn by their mothers and composing and reading death poems before departing on their missions :

    The kamikaze, along with all Japanese aviators flying over unfriendly territory, were issued (or purchased, if they were officers) a Nambu pistol with which to end their lives if they risked being captured. Like all Army and Navy servicemen, the kamikaze would wear their senninbari, a “belt of a thousand stitches” given to them by their mothers.[81] They also composed and read a death poem, a tradition stemming from the samurai, who did so before committing seppuku.

    Source :

    Sheesh, I guess that made the kamikaze all “woke” and thus weak and ineffective and feminised and all huh? FFS.

    Even the ancient Spartans from what I recall hearing or reading somewhere were apparently famously concerned about getting their long hair nicely groomed before battle.. (Not something depicted in thr kinda period peice 300 oddly enough!**)

    But no, fhe mighty USA must be fre of all poetry, all art and it seems all education lest its sailors and marines actually think for themselves because who wants a military that’s cpaable of art and intellect not just the bluntest of cannon fodder huh?

    .* Where navies and sailors were famous for experiencing “rum, sodomy and the lash!”

    .** Is a Sarc tag really required there?

  22. StevoR says

    @21. Marcus Ranum : Love that poem. Incredibly powerful and thought-provoking. There’s also so many others of Wilfred Owen like this one – – The Parable of the Old Man and the Young (1917) which, in fairness, probly could get military people thinking a bit too much for the “leaders” liking.

    Then there’s the other war poets ( ) like Seigfried Sassoon ( all the way back to Homer although whether he actually took part in any fighting is unclear and probly unlikely.

    But no, let’s not have any military that’s educated, artistic, thoughtful or more than barely literate brutes and, oh yeah, *(thanks #25 raven) also let’s have amilitary full of racists and committed to a racist white suprmacist agenda becuase that will sure win hearts and minds overseas and not lead to war crimes and atrocities like the ones comitted by, say, Aussie SAS pyschopath and beloved “hero” of multi-millionaire Kerry Stokes, Ben Roberts-Smith who does not seem to have written any decent poetry..

  23. StevoR says

    ^ See :

    Plus on Aussie SAS forces flying the nazi flag :

    As well as the Confederate one :

    Unsurprisingly a lot of war crimes allegations – many found to be true during BRSés defamiation case – have since come to light. Our media, of course, has been attacked for, y’know, exposing the truth by the reichwing of politics too..

  24. raven says

    The ancient Greeks also combined poetry with warriors and warfare.

    Archilochus, (flourished c. 650 bce, Paros [Cyclades, Greece]), poet and soldier,
    the earliest Greek writer of iambic, elegiac, and personal lyric poetry whose works have survived to any considerable extent.

    Two of the great seminal works of Western literature were by Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey, both about war and warriors, the Trojan war and Odysseus.

    Norse Sagas (Viking Epics Explained)

    Timeless Myths › norse

    Norse sagas are similar to epic, but usually refer to works compiled during medieval Iceland. Saga is usually a narrative, either in poems or prose, dealing …

    The Norse Vikings were also famous for their Sagas, stories is poem and prose dealing with important subjects of their day.

    I see Tuberville’s error here, at least the latest of a lifetime.
    He is assuming military soldiers and sailors are stupid, illiterate thugs whose spare time is spent gambling, chasing women, drinking, and beating each other up.

    This was never necessarily true.
    In times past, military people could be literate and cultured as well as competent at warfare.
    In our High Tech era, where our military deals with expensive, highly computerized weapons systems, we need smart, educated people to run everything.

  25. StevoR says

    @25. raven : “The Democrats are attacking our military, saying we need to get out the white extremists, the white nationalists, people that don’t believe in our agenda,” Tuberville lamented.

    Isn’t that an implicit admission that Tommy Tuberville is, himself, a white nationalist extremist who has that as his – “..our..” – agenda? Has there been any follow up on that and well deserved pushback and note taken of it? Hmm..

    After the interview, Tuberville’s brother Charles said he felt “compelled to distance himself” from Tuberville and his “ignorant, hateful rants” and “vile rhetoric”.[118]

    In July 2023, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins asked Tuberville about his earlier comments on white nationalists, which she defined as “someone who believes that the white race is superior to other races”. Tuberville called that an “opinion”. He then denied white nationalists are inherently racist.[119] Tuberville’s refusal to accept the definition of a white nationalist drew heavy criticism from Democrats and Republican senators.[120][121] A day later, Tuberville reversed his statement, saying, “White nationalists are racists.”

    Source :

  26. Pierce R. Butler says

    StevoR @ # 30, quoting raven @ # 25 quoting Alabama’s senior senator: “The Democrats are attacking our military, saying we need to get out the white extremists, the white nationalists, people that don’t believe in our agenda,” …

    Since TT clearly made that up, we can’t compare it to any original, but I think he meant to impute that last phrase to the Democratic Party: “… saying, ‘we need to get out the … people that don’t believe in our agenda.’”

    Every accusation a confession, again. [insert roll-eyes emoji]

    Does the right wing in other nations do this even half so much?

  27. Akira MacKenzie says

    Half a league, half a league,
    Half a league onward,
    All in the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.
    “Forward, the Light Brigade!
    Charge for the guns!” he said.
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.

    —Alfred, Lord Tennyson

  28. wzrd1 says

    Marcus Ranum @ 20, as I recall, the Athenians refused to allow the idios the right to vote. Idios being uneducated and yes, idiot is a modern derivative of that original term. No education, no land, no vote.

    Of course, there’s the Heinlein school of political thought. Only those who served could run for office or vote.
    That’d get Tommy out instantly, as well as most of the majority of other idiots in misleadership positions, leaving a controllable number still in office that did serve.
    Nah, that school of politics resulted in an outright fascist government.

  29. Erp says

    He went without fears, went gaily, since go he must,
    And drilled and sweated and sang, and rode in the heat and dust
    Of the summer; his fellows were round him, as eager as he,
    While over the world the gloomy days of the war dragged heavily.

    He fell without a murmur in the noise of battle; found rest
    ‘Midst the roar of hooves on the grass, a bullet struck through his breast.
    Perhaps he drowsily lay; for him alone it was still,
    And the blood ran out of his body, it had taken so little to kill.

    To know that he was not a unit, a pawn whose place can be filled;
    Not blood, but the beautiful years of his coming life have been spilled,
    The days that should have followed, a house and a home, maybe,
    For a thousand may love and marry and nest, but so shall not he.

    Ferenc Békássy 1914
    killed 22 June 1915

  30. imback says

    There once was a moron named Tommy
    Who said that our Navy’s turned Commie
    Cuz the sailors delight
    In a Red sky at night
    A signal to make the day “bomby”

  31. submoron says

    From Wikipedia’s article on Gray’s Elegy.
    “There is a story that the British General James Wolfe read the poem before his troops arrived at the Plains of Abraham in September 1759 as part of the Seven Years’ War. After reading the poem, he is reported to have said: “Gentlemen, I would rather have written those lines than take Quebec tomorrow.”[“

  32. dbinmn says

    The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner by Randall Jarrell

    From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,
    And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
    Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
    I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
    When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

  33. F.O. says

    Well, reality is woke now.

    I don’t think this guy here spends a lot of time thinking about the rationality, consistency and goodness of his positions.
    He just listens to people, what words are flying around, and rearranges them in sound bites that flow along his perception of what other bigoted morons will respond to.

    Calling out him or his followers on their hypocrisy and ignorance won’t affect them, because that’s now how their minds work.
    I wonder if calling them out on their refusal to grow up and then just avoid engaging with them seriously would work better.

  34. birgerjohansson says

    Tethys @ 16
    Fä dör
    Fränder dör
    Själv dör du likaledes
    Ett vet jag som aldrig dör
    Dom över död man.

    (Translation to modern Swedish by Åke Ohlmarks, who also translated Tolkien’s works)

  35. birgerjohansson says

    Akira MacKenzie @ 34
    Flower arrangemang was considered a military art, as it required precision.

  36. Tethys says


    I know that verse, and it is apropos.

    Cattle die
    Friends die
    You will likewise die
    The only thing that never dies
    The reputation of dead men.

  37. Tethys says

    Ashes to ashes, funk to funky
    We know Sen. Tom’s a flunky
    Strung out in heaven’s high
    Hitting an all-time low

    ~Ziggy Stardust

  38. says

    I also recall that another art that the samurai practiced was flower arrangement.

    Musashi did brush and ink paintings, when he wasn’t fighting duels with oars or katana. He was decidedly “woke” and wrote a very thoughtful book on strategy, which remains a classic. Japan named one of its mega-battleships after him. Tuberville will never leave such a mark in history.

  39. christoph says

    In Tuberville’s defense, reading poetry does turn you gay. Kind of like listening to Judy Collins.

  40. whheydt says

    I wonder how he’ll react when he finds out that there are SCA branches on some of the US aircraft carriers?
    Re: Anne, Cranky Cat Lady @ #5…
    I like the Muppet Show version.

  41. llyris says

    @54 christoph
    @5 Anne crazy cat lady

    See!!!! The Village People sang poetry about being in the navy and it made them all gay.

  42. rietpluim says

    Thanks everyone for introducing some fine poems.
    @PZ Can we have something like an infinite thread dedicated to poetry?

  43. wzrd1 says

    …never saw a purple cow, but I’d rather see than be one”.
    Probably, the reason I’ve never appreciated most poetry is due to my dyslexia.
    But, the Star Spangled Banner did resonate, as did similar poems.
    Context and dyslexia are important and unaddressed in such primitive training of my youth, during the ice age.
    Which I do miss ice. Used to be able to ice skate on Pennsylvania in winter, now, one can only ice skate in a refrigerated arena or one needs rollers.
    Not that I ever mastered even level skating…

  44. whheydt says

    Re: wzrd1 @ #62…
    Longer time line… As a child, my father would ice skate on the East River in Manhattan in winter.

  45. Mark Dowd says

    You give these idiots too much credit when you accept that whatever they say happened is what actually happened. I give a better than 95% chance that whatever “poems broadcast on an aircraft carrier loudspeaker” event he’s talking about just didn’t happen. These people invent their own persecution pretty much every time.